A father and his seven children were found dead in their Maryland home after Princess Anne police officers responded to a missing persons report Monday, the AP reports.
According to Princess Anne'sp police chief, Scott Keller, on Tuesday, Rodney Eric Todd, 36, and his two sons and five daughters were accidentally poisoned by carbon monoxide from the gas-powered generator they used to keep them warm. The home's electricity had reportedly been cut off by the utility company.
"The children were all in beds and it appears as though they were sleeping," Keller said. "They didn't have electricity. Probably it was bedtime and they decided they needed some light and probably some heat, because toward the end of March even though it was spring we were having some pretty chilly nights."
A close friend of Todd's told the AP that the father had been receiving some welfare money, but it was not enough. "How can a man survive off of basically minimum wage with seven kids, and you can't help him with a utility bill?" Sarah Hardy asked. "This man was working. And Delmarva Power cuts the lights off?"
Delmarva Power has spoken out about the tragedy, denying claims that it cut off power to the home because the family was behind on their utility bill. The company alleged the utility had disconnected a stolen electric meter illegally connected to the rental home for safety reasons and to comply with standard protocol.
"Through the use of smart meter technology, Delmarva Power discovered a stolen electric meter was being used at the home on March 25, 2015," Delmarva Power spokesman Matt Likovich said. "There was no request to reconnect service."
According to the AP and the children's grandmother Bonnie Edwards, court records identified the boys as Cameron, 13, and ZhiHeem, 17, and the girls as Tyjuziana, 15, Tykeria, 12, Tynijuzia, 10, TyNiah, 9, and Tybreyia, 6. Todd reportedly divorced from the children's mother, Tyisha Luneice Chambers, last September and subsequently received full custody of his children.
"I'm just numb. I'm just numb. Like it's a nightmare but it's not," Chambers told AP on Tuesday. "If I had known he was without electricity, I would have helped."
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(Photo: AP Photo/The Daily Times, Joe Lamberti)